For more than 15 years, Interfor has been systematically acquiring and upgrading sawmills in Canada, the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast to support our goal to become one of world’s leading lumber providers.
Today, we operate 18 mills and two remanufacturing plants representing more than 3 billion board feet of capacity across North America in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Arkansas, South Carolina and Georgia.
Since acquiring our first mills in Georgia just under five years ago, we’ve invested more than $80 million to upgrade our mills in the state, and last month announced a $16.5 million investment at Meldrim, with more plans on the drawing board. We’ve also taken an active approach to investing in our people with initiatives like our maintenance apprenticeship program, which allows our employees to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to advance their careers in forest product manufacturing.
We are proud of our decision to invest in Georgia. The state has provided a business and political climate necessary to support investment and to pursue new domestic and international markets.
- A favorable log supply and productive and sustainable forests, with more than 22 million acres of privately-owned, commercially-available working forests;
- Robust infrastructure, with strong rail and highway networks; and,
- A commitment to growing a strong forest-sector workforce by offering support and funding to programs like our maintenance apprenticeship program.
In addition to these critical assets, our ability to reach global markets is greatly enhanced because of the world class ports located in Savannah and Brunswick. In 2016, Interfor exported approximately 40 million board feet of our southern yellow pine lumber to Asia and other emerging markets, mostly from the Port in Savannah. In 2018, we anticipate our export business to approach 150 million board feet. Our proximity to the Port of Savannah and the efficiency in which the Georgia Ports Authority manages containers to overseas markets is a real advantage for our long-term success.
This year, we will buy nearly 4 million tons of logs worth over $150 million from two-thirds of the counties across the state. We will sell 1.5 million tons of byproducts to other manufacturing facilities to create pulp, paper, biomass and other products. Many of these products will be shipped to overseas markets through the ports of Brunswick and Savannah.
Growth and expansion is an integral part of our culture. Our southern yellow pine business has developed well and is maturing into a large part of our company’s profile. The ability to grow this part of business will be increasingly important, and Georgia and its ports will play an essential role for Interfor as we broaden the delivery of our lumber around the world.